Broadley v. Mashpee Neck Marina, Inc.

471 F.3d 272 (2006)

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Broadley v. Mashpee Neck Marina, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
471 F.3d 272 (2006)

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Facts

Mark Broadley (plaintiff) docked his boat at Mashpee Neck Marina, Inc. (the marina) (defendant). The marina’s mooring agreement contained a boilerplate exculpatory clause. The clause released the marina from all liability for any claims and barred Broadley from bringing suit against the marina for any harms. The clause required Broadley to pay the marina’s attorney’s fees if Broadley breached his agreement not to sue. Broadley was injured when his foot slipped between the main dock and a floating dock. Broadley sued the marina, alleging negligence. The marina argued that the exculpatory clause barred Broadley’s claim. Broadley countered that admiralty law prevented the marina from completely absolving itself from liability for ordinary negligence. Broadley also argued that the clause was unenforceable because it was overbroad, purporting to waive liability for even gross negligence and intentional wrongdoing. The district court reformed the exculpatory clause so that it waived liability only for ordinary negligence, not gross negligence and intentional wrongdoing. Then, finding that the marina’s negligence was merely ordinary negligence, the district court granted the marina’s motion for summary judgment. Broadley appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Boudin, C.J.)

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